Johnson fails in attempt to call general election in UK
Opposition MPs abstain from Commons vote and deny him the needed two-thirds majority
UK prime minister Boris Johnson: ‘The obvious conclusion is I’m afraid is that [Jeremy Corbyn] does not think he can win.’ Photograph: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/EPA
Boris Johnson has failed in his attempt to call a general election next month after most Opposition MPs abstained denying him the two-thirds majority he needed in a Commons vote – 298 MPs voted in favour of the motion under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, with 56 against.
Labour MPs abstained in the vote and party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would only vote for a general election after a Bill seeking to block a no-deal Brexit becomes law. Mr Johnson mocked the Labour leader, accusing him of being afraid to face the voters.
“Forty eight hours ago he was leading the chants of ‘Stop the coup, let the people vote’. Now he’s saying: ‘Stop the election and stop the people from voting’. I think he has become the first leader of the opposition in the democratic history of our country to refuse the invitation to an election. The obvious conclusion is I’m afraid is that he does not think he can win,”the prime minister said.
Earlier, MPs voted by 329 to 300 for a Bill obliging Mr Johnson to seek a three-month delay to Brexit if he fails to secure a withdrawal deal by October 19th.
The bill has gone to the House of Lords where pro-government peers have tabled more than 100 amendments in an attempt to delay the bill’s passage until after Parliament is prorogued next week.
Mr Corbyn accused Mr Johnson’s “undemocratic cabal in Downing Street” of aligning with the unelected House of Lords to block a bill approved by MPs.
He said he was eager for a general election but would not agree to it while the threat of a no-deal Brexit remained.
“A general election isn’t a plaything for a prime minister to avoid his obligations, to dodge scrutiny, or renege on his commitments. He has committed to renegotiate Brexit – but where is it? Where is the plan? Where are the proposals?” he said.
“If he has a Brexit plan – be it no-deal or this new mystery proposed deal we are yet to see any detail of – then he should put it before the people in a public vote, a referendum or a general election and seek a mandate from them.”
Mr Johnson said the Bill would give the EU control over the Brexit negotiations and the power to determine how long Britain would remain a member-state.
“I’m afraid the country must now decide whether the leader of the opposition or I go to Brussels on the 17th of October to sort this out,” he said.